People of the Book? Books and Libraries in Late Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Society

For the Public
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
8:00 PM

Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El
1001 Remington Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096

Etty Lassman

The term “people of the book” appears for the first time in the Quran, supposedly due to the centrality of text (the Bible) and literacy in monotheistic religions. But can this claim be substantiated historically? In his talk, Professor Joseph Hacker will examine the place of literacy, reading, and libraries in the world of the Jews during the medieval and early modern periods. The speaker will explore such questions as: what was the level of literacy in the Jewish society? What did Jews write and read and how did they read? Which books were particularly popular and why? In what ways were Jewish books printed and distributed? More generally, how did the Hebrew book shape and impact Jewish society in this period?


NB: This lecture will be delivered in Hebrew.


Joseph R. Hacker

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Joseph R. Hacker is Professor Emeritus at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His books include The Ottoman-Jewish Encounter: A Social and Cultural History of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire (1453-1620) (2013), The Ordinances of Sephardi Communities in the Ottoman Empire in the 15th – 19th Centuries (2013), and Beit Ha-Levi: A Portugese Jewish Family in Salonica. Letters and Documents, forthcoming. Proffesor Hacker's  work at the center will focus on the social, economic, and cultural links between Ottoman Jewry and English people in the Levant, which is part of a larger project on connections between Ottoman Jews and European (both Protestant and Catholic) and English merchants, diplomats, scholars, and travelers.

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